Australia's largest Holocaust denial group expressed support in Tony Abbott's initative to reduce and weaken the laws defining hate crimes, according to a Saturday report in the Australian daily the Sydney Morning Herald.
The report claimed that the Adelaide Institute, founded by Gerald Fredrick Töben – who served two jail sentences for Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism – announced that section C18 of the Racial Discrimination Act and other anti-racism laws have prevented "legitimate" historical discussions.
Attorney General George Brandis and Human Rights Commissioner Tim Wilson called for the legislative changes.
Wilson denounced Töben, saying his positions and the positions of the institute he formerly chaired are "repugnant" and "fantasyland rubbish," but added that the judicial system is not the arena for dealing with these broad issues.
According to Wilson, unhindered public debate is the proper way to deal with Holocaust deniers: "Rather than hide in their caverns of hate, these people should be exposed for the stupidity and absurdity of their commentary in public debate so their names can be dragged through the dirt for all time."
The current director of the Adelaide Institute, Peter Hartung, refused to respond to Wilson's comments, saying instead that "these laws stop discussion of things that can be proved with facts and figures so it cannot be debated. These laws were brought in to shut people up when they have no rational argument against what they're saying."
Auschwitz at WWII's end (Photo: EPA) Jewish prisoners at Auschwitz (Photo: EPA) The anti-racism laws have been in the news since they were used in 2011 against a News Corp journalist for his "inaccurate and offensive" attacks on light-skinned Aborigines.
Their was wide-spread criticism of the laws at the time, though the Sydney Morning Herald report says the legislation has mostly been used by Australian Jewish groups against Holocaust deniers and neo-Nazis.
Töben's second jail sentence, three months in 2009, was for breaking a court order to stop publishing anti-Semitic
material on his website.
He was handed his first jail sentence in 1999, serving seven months in a German prison for denying the Holocaust. At Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's
2006 Holocaust denial conference, Töben claimed that the Auschwitz concentration camps was "too small" to have been the site of mass murder.
He claimed only 2,007 Jews were killed at Auschwitz;
most researchers place the figure between 1.1 million to 1.5 million people murdered at the notorious camp, most of them Jews.
Australia has witnessed several anti-Semitic incidents in the past decade, including a string of cases in 2006 thought to be the result of the summer conflict between Israel and Hezbollah. Less than two months ago, in October, six Sydney Jews were brutally assaulted.
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